I start with 3 different colors of paper and matching crayons for those colors. I did red, white and black:
Bring everyone to carpet and hand each child a paper and make sure they get the matching color crayon. At this point some of my smarties begin to mutter about white not showing up on white paper etc. Ignore the mutters and settle in to read one of the best books ever:
Instruct the children that they have to draw a beautiful picture while you read aloud. Start reading and see what happens. In past years I haven't gotten even a page into the book before the muttering revs up, finally culminating in one brave soul who will cry out "Mrs. Knopf I can't use the white crayon on white paper!" or red crayon on red paper etc.
This year however, my kiddos were all working very hard to try to get those darn crayons to show up, so I had to intervene and ask one of them point blank "Jimmy Bob, why aren't you drawing, I told you to draw me a beautiful picture!" At this point he earnestly explained that he was trying, it was just hard to see.
Most years, the kids come up with the solution to switch crayons on their own. This year's class needed a little help to come to that conclusion, but finally suggested it. I acted aghast that they would want to mix their crayon and paper colors - "You mean you're going to use the white crayon on red paper?!" and they assured me that it was, in fact, a good idea. I allowed the switch of crayons, furrowing my brow in worry until a few of them demonstrated that it was working and they would draw me a great picture.
The kids keep drawing as I read, eventually getting so pulled into the book that their crayons drop by the wayside and they sit, struggling to comprehend - "You mean she couldn't sit anywhere she wanted on the bus?" "Why were people like that?" and finally "He died?!"
The discussion that takes place afterward is priceless. We talk about all the things we'd miss out on if it hadn't been for MLK Jr. Students who wouldn't be best friends, or even classmates any more, having to use a different restroom or water fountain etc. It truly is one of the best group discussions we have all year.
We also do fingerprint class art projects. The Heart has quotes about love from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa, while the Dove has peace quotes. Each child gets a different color of paint, to illustrate how ALL colors can create beauty and how sharing our talents makes the world a better place.
We also make rainbow handprints to go along with the song "With My Own Two Hands" by Ben Harper and write about how we can change our own little corner of the world to help keep Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream alive.
These activities are all in my Martin Luther King, Jr. Pack on TPT here.
This year, rather than continue on with another book (I usually do "The Crayon Box That Talked" and have everyone decorate a crayon template) I chose to make a great craftivity from Susan Moran's MLK Jr unit. I really wanted to get the kids writing about their dreams. I stressed that this was supposed to be a serious dream - not one about having a bath with a purple and pink poodle! I think they turned out awesome, so I'm sharing a few of them with you tonight:
I can totally see this little girl growing up to be a firefighter - she is very determined!
First off, love that she used a contraction correctly, secondly, I never knew she aspired to be an artist! I will have to provide more free art time!
This little guy is one of my strugglers - I was so proud of him for getting 3 complete sentences down!
I am first in line for a $1 house!
He sounded out "hippopotamuses" by himself!
This little girl is always belting out the tunes when we sing - I love that music brings her such joy!
This little guy wants to be a nurse, but he'll make sure to wait for the doctor when he helps people. I just loved it!
That's it, just a little peek :) I am so lucky to be a teacher!